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Friday, September 30, 2022
<p>With the loss of Jarrad Davis and Alex Anzalone to the NFL, Florida will have to rely on some new faces at the linebacker position this fall.</p>

With the loss of Jarrad Davis and Alex Anzalone to the NFL, Florida will have to rely on some new faces at the linebacker position this fall.

Less than one week remains until Florida kicks off the 2017 regular season against Michigan at AT&T Stadium. The Gators enter this year as back-to-back SEC East champions, notching 13 conference wins under coach Jim McElwain since he took over the program in 2015. As always, UF’s success on the gridiron this fall will largely depend on its roster, a group of players featuring both seasoned veterans and unestablished newcomers. Here is the position preview for players set to play running back at Florida this year:

 

Players: Brendan Ackerman (Fr.), Lacedrick Brunson (Fr.), Quaylin Crum (Fr.), Cristian Garcia (R-Sr.), James Houston IV (Fr.), Rayshad Jackson (R-So.), Kylan Johnson (R-So.), Vosean Joseph (So.), Jahim Lawrence (R-So.), Ventrell Miller (Fr.), Jeremiah Moon (R-Fr.), R.J. Raymond (R-Jr.), David Reese (So.), Nick Smith (Fr.), Will Thomas (R-Fr.), Danny Weldon (R-So.)

 

When David Reese began his freshman campaign in Gainesville last fall, it took the linebacker some time to see his name move up Florida’s depth chart.

He was, after all, joining a crowded position group at UF that featured two eventual NFL draft picks in Jarrad Davis and Alex Anzalone.

Reese played sparingly in 12 appearances for the Gators last season, serving mostly as a backup aside from the four games Davis wasn’t able to start due to injury.

But with a full year at Florida now under his belt, the native of Farmington, Michigan, is ready to become a permanent contributor on UF’s defense.

Reese, standing at 6-foot-1, 240 pounds, is slated to take over as the Gators starting middle linebacker this season. The sophomore notched 49 tackles and two tackles for loss in 2016, displaying good instincts both in stopping the run and dropping back into pass coverage.

“He’s that guy that’s kind of the nuts and bolts of where we’re at on defense,” McElwain said. “You see some of the plays he made last year when he hit guys, they kind of went backward. That’s a good thing. He’s a natural football player.”

Also expected to assume starting roles at linebacker this fall are redshirt sophomore Kylan Johnson and sophomore Vosean Joseph.

Like Reese, Johnson and Joseph spent the majority of last season on Florida’s bench until injuries opened the door for increased playing time.

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And when those opportunities arose, neither player disappointed.

Johnson, a versatile athlete with experience playing at safety, started the final five games of the year for UF and recorded 26 tackles and 3.5 tackles for loss over that span.

Joseph, on the other hand, didn’t crack McElwain’s lineup until the Outback Bowl on Jan. 2, but made the most of his first starting nod with a six-tackle performance against Iowa.

“He’s gotten way better,” Reese said about Joseph’s progression at Florida. “He’s become more vocal, he’s fast, he’s flying around, and he’s going to have a big year.”

Other players who figure into the mix at linebacker include redshirt senior Cristian Garcia and redshirt freshman Jeremiah Moon.

Garcia is a former walk-on who began working on UF’s video staff prior to officially joining the team in 2015, while Moon is an exceptional athlete at 6-foot-6, 230 pounds, who earned a medical redshirt last season after injuring his wrist against Massachusetts.

Freshman Lacedrick Brunson is a player whom McElwain said would also be “ready to go” at the outside linebacker position if necessary.

“He doesn’t mess up too much,” Reese said of Brunson. “That’s one of those guys that just works hard at the end of the day.”

Contact Dylan Dixon at ddixon@alligator.org and follow him on Twitter @dylanrdixon.

 

With the loss of Jarrad Davis and Alex Anzalone to the NFL, Florida will have to rely on some new faces at the linebacker position this fall.

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